What are New Jersey’s Principal Industries?

The state of New Jersey’s largest industries are: pharmaceuticals and life sciences, advanced manufacturing, health industries, and finance and insurance. In addition to these, other major industries include health care, agriculture, and film. In this article, we’ll examine these industries and their contributions to the state economy. This overview is just a brief overview. To learn more, check out the links below. Then, use the interactive map to explore the industries of your state.


The development of the textile industry was one of the first phases of industrialization in the Garden State. Although the state began as a largely agricultural colony, the fur trade with Native Americans turned the area into one of the leading centers of manufacture for both clothing and weapons. Water power helped farmers run grist mills and powdered iron mines. Meanwhile, increasing numbers of immigrants from other countries provided labor. By the early nineteenth century, most of the state’s expenses were funded through transportation revenues.


While the pharmaceutical and insurance industries are the top two industries in the state, agriculture is one of the state’s most important economic resources. The state is home to more than 9,000 farms, which generated $1 billion in cash receipts in 2017. The state’s leading commodity groups include fruits and vegetables, field crops, equine, poultry and eggs, and dairy. About 720,000 acres of productive farmland are used to produce food and other goods, and are also one of the state’s largest sources of scenic vistas.

Health care

Health care is one of New Jersey’s major industries, contributing more than $34 billion to the state’s GDP in 2009. It employs nearly 1.4 million people, and the bio/pharmaceutical and life sciences cluster accounts for 5.0 percent of the state’s GDP. It also accounts for about one-fifth of the private sector’s employment, or 125,965 people.

Commercial fishing

The fishing industry is a vital part of New Jersey’s economy. In 2018, the state landed over $170 million worth of fish. In addition to Atlantic scallops, monkfish, and shortfin and longfin squid, the state is also a hub of fishing operations. This activity generates significant revenue for the Jersey shoreline, and federal and state support is essential for the survival of this industry.


Despite its proximity to Philadelphia and New York City, New Jersey’s principal industries are pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. These two industries support 156,000 jobs in the state. The New Jersey pharmaceutical industry is responsible for $6 billion in payroll impact, charitable contributions of $155 million and state sales and income tax revenues. The pharmaceutical industry’s contribution to the economy is growing every day. The Garden State also has plenty of natural areas and farmland.

Chemical manufacturing

New Jersey’s chemical industry is experiencing strong growth. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 2,750 people are employed in the Chemical Manufacturing subsector. In 2009, the sector recorded a huge gain in jobs, up almost 3%. While the subsector has been steadily growing for several decades, 2010 was a particularly strong year, with jobs increased by almost 7%. Local comparative advantage may have contributed to this growth.


The shipping industry in New Jersey is centered in the Port of Newark and Port Elizabeth, with minor activity in Delaware Bay. Some shipping operations move goods directly onto rails at the port, which eliminates the need for trucking. However, a mis-siting of a large storage or distribution facility can result in excessive truck traffic. Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize this potential traffic.

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